The word geek is one that has had several meanings over the centuries, including meaning both a fool and a very smart person. How did we acquire the word geek and how did it come to mean such a variety of things?

The modern word geek is most likely a northern English variant of an older word, geck, meaning a simpleton or one who is deceived. It can also be verb, meaning to deceive, to cheat. It’s a borrowing into English from the Lower German geck and is related to the Middle Dutch gec. From Alexander Barclay’s Certayne Eglogues of 1515:

Aiijb, He is a foole, a sotte, and a geke also Which choseth...the worst [way] and most of ieoperdie.

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